History of the Great Falls Americans Hockey Team
The Great Falls Americans hockey team started as a junior hockey team that competed in the Western Hockey League during the 1979-1980 season. Originally, the team was the Edmonton Oil Kings (Alberta, Canada) before moving to Great Falls, Montana. Unfortunately, the team only lasted one season in Great Falls (winning 2 games out of 28) before moving to Spokane, Washington and revived as the Spokane Flyers.
Great Falls landed another junior hockey franchise 14 years later and the Kings Americans competed in the American Frontier Hockey League during the 1994-1995 season. After that season, the team changed their name to the Great Falls Americans. From 1995-1998 Great Falls Americans were in the American Frontier Hockey League. Then from 1998-2003 the Americans played in the America West Hockey League. For eight seasons the team played in the Four Seasons Arena, currently known as the Montana Expo Park. They played 410 games compiling a 204-173-6-6-21.
One of Great Falls’ most successful hockey players in history was Patrick Dwyer, who played for the Carolina Hurricanes (NHL). Pat played two seasons for the Americans (1999-2001). During this time he lead the team to a 33-57 record. Pat assisted in the Americans in claiming an AWHL championship before heading to college at Western Michigan University.
Another successful hockey player in the Electric City was our hometown hero, Terry Casey. Terry played a variety of sports at Great Falls High School during his early days including hockey before accepting a college hockey scholarship to the University of North Dakota. Later, he was selected to play for Team USA in the 1968 Winter Olympics. Unfortunately Terry never saw that dream come true. On July 7th, 1967 Terry and several others were killed in a car accident on their way to a softball tournament in Plentywood, Montana. In honor of him, the Terry Casey Memorial Hockey Cup Tournament began and is still is going strong today. Click here for the link to the Casey Cup Tournament.
Through out the beginning the team played at The Four Seasons Arena. It was constructed in 1979 as a multi-purpose sports and exhibition arena and could hold around 6,314 fans. The facility served mainly as an ice rink until 2005 but arena management decided to close the rink after the main refrigeration system failed. Due to the $1.5 million repairs and upgrades that weren’t affordable for the arena. There were two rinks in the facility including a 33,000 square foot rink and a 17,000 square foot practice rink. In 2003 the Americans played their last season at The Four Seasons Arena.
Years later in 2011 Great Falls businessman Jim Keough bought an AWHL franchise and the Great Falls Americans Junior A hockey team was reborn. Since 2011 the Great Falls Ice Plex, has been home to the Americans. The rink was opened in November 2008.
On Saturday, December 20th, 2014 The Great Falls Americans retired Joseph Sam Williamson’s game jersey, No. 11. This is the second jersey that has been retired in Americans club history. The only other one that has been retired is Terry Casey’s. The ceremony took place during the first intermission at home against Bozeman.
Williamson, the center and team captain for Great Falls, played from 1955 until the mid-1960’s on a team that also featured Casey.
Read the full release and see the photo by clicking here.
Through the Years: Great Falls Teams
1979-80: Great Falls Americans (Western Hockey League): Record: 2-25-1
1994-95: Kings Americans (American Frontier Hockey League) Record: Not Announced
1995-03: Great Falls Americans (American Frontier Hockey League) Record: 204-173-6-6-21
- 1995-96: Great Falls Americans (American Frontier Hockey League): Record: Not Announced
- 1996-97: Great Falls Americans (American Frontier Hockey League): Record: 17-36-6
- 1997-98: Great Falls Americans (American Frontier Hockey League): Record: 27-28-0-0-5
- 1998-99: Great Falls Americans (American West Hockey League): Record: 37-20-0-3-0
- 1990-00: Great Falls Americans (American West Hockey League): Record: 33-17-0-0-8
- 2000-01: Great Falls Americans (American West Hockey League): Record: 42-11-0-2-5
- 2001-02: Great Falls Americans (American West Hockey League): Record: 29-24-0-1-2
- 2002-03: Great Falls Americans (American West Hockey League): Record: 19-36-0-0-1
2011-12: Great Falls Americans (American West Hockey League): Record: 1-48-0
2012-13: Great Falls Americans (American West Hockey League): Record: 16-30-2